The Social Foundations of ASEAN and ‘Non-Interference’

  • Lee Jones
Part of the Critical Studies of the Asia Pacific Series book series (CSAP)


ASEAN was founded in 1967, in the wake of war between Indonesia and Malaysia, and amidst the wreckage of several failed regional cooperation initiatives. Since then, armed conflict among its member-states has been relatively minimal, leading many observers to identify ASEAN as the developing world’s most successful regional organisation. Its success is often attributed to the adoption of non-interference as a cardinal principle of regional order, which underpinned a sub-regional reconciliation mechanism, or even the creation of a regional identity. This chapter offers an alternative reading of ASEAN’s origins and evolution. The claim that non-interference successfully created a stable international order is undermined by the fact of continued interventionist practices by ASEAN states throughout the Cold War. What actually changed with ASEAN’s foundation was that the forces controlling the member-states — which were, by 1967, all aligned in an anti-communist direction for the first time — began collaborating with each other to shore up rather than undermine their respective domestic orders. This meant that intra-ASEAN interventions were reoriented to help defeat insurgencies and other challenges, while extraASEAN interventions continued against radical forces seen as linked to these ‘internal’ rebellions.


Foreign Minister ASEAN State Khmer Rouge Social Foundation Regional Order 
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Copyright information

© Lee Jones 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary, University of LondonUK

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